Shah Rukh Khan's never been one to mince words. This time, too, he lives up to his reputation. He opens up about everything he's been through in the past few months completing his film, his fight with Salman, his bonding with Akshay Kumar and more...
Your Billoo Barber is ready...
Let me just make it very clear that it is Irrfan Khan's film. He is Billoo Barber. I am playing a big movie star in the film.
You are playing yourself?
No. I'm playing a much bigger star than I am if that is possible. His name's Sahil Khan. We have also used the SRK and the King Khan title for him. The idea behind the film is: It is not special to be special, it is special to be ordinary. I've always liked this line. It's something Shekhar Kapur once told me. I have always wanted to make films about that. It's a story of ordinary people. I think Priyan and Lara (Dutta) have done a great job. Most actresses were reluctant to do the part but she believed in it and did it.
You've postponed it?
We've just changed the dates because I felt there were bigger films coming Subhash- ji"s (Ghai) and all. We didn't want it to clash.
Was it re-shot because you weren't happy?
No. I never question directors. The day I decide to question a director is the day I will start directing films. I don't direct films. Not as yet. But I have my inputs. The songs are done in tandem with Priyan because I just believe that between Farah, myself, Pritam and Pony, we can do a music job. I am very keen that the music of this film become a big hit. Whenever you see my character the superstar it's musically oriented, so we have Deepika, Kareena and Priyanka doing songs.
You wanted Rani too?
I wanted Rani for the main lead. But I told her, "Maybe you won't like the role.' Not to take away anything from Lara I am happy and very thankful to her for doing it but it's not typically a heroine's role in terms of length or content. Also I think Rani was very busy, and she said, "Shahâ¦' (pulls a sad face) and I said it's ok. I am too close to her to question her. For the songs, we had Priyanka, Katrina, Kareena and Deepika that mould of superstar actresses who look really sexy and beautiful to choose from, and this guy dancing with them.
What's BB all about?
It's about a person's life changing. The promo of the film goes something like this: Main Billoo Barber Hoon. Sab kehte hain ke sitaron se kismat aur zindagi badalti hai. Mere sitare acche hi honge. Meri biwi bahut achchi hai, mere dost bhi achche hain, kaam bhi theek thaak chal raha hai. Phir meri zindagi mein ek sitara aaya (Then you see my character) aur meri zindagi barbaad ho gayi. The whole idea behind the film is: How stars change lives. But we have taken the literal meaning of stars which is movie stars.
Which reminds me of star wars. Was the fight with Salman because you refused to do a cameo in Mr and Mrs Khanna
There's no truth in the rumour that I was asked to do a guest appearance and I said no. He must've mentioned some film. We all mention films to each other. It was a full-fledged film, and I didn't have time for it. I think they are doing it now. I think it's the same film I don't remember. It was just talked about. It became a big thing because people assumed that I asked him to do Om Shanti Om. To be very honest, I didn't. Farah (Khan) did, and he has a relationship with her. I'd asked him to KBC, and I think you can ask people you have a relationship with. I try not to pressurise anyone. And they can ask me something in return. You do things for each other. I have done it before for Sajid Nadiadwala. Salman had asked me for that Raj Kanwar film, which I did.
Salman says he won't forgive you. Your reaction?
God bless him. I think he said the smartest thing. We are different people. To be very honest, these kind of tiffs I have had, not only with Salman but with other people too. You are sitting with people, talking, and things get out of hand. I try and not to get into aggressive situations with anyone. I am not made like that. But sometimes baat hote-hote thoda sa jhagda. Utna hi tha. And I think he was, by chance, marketing his film the next morning. Obviously he was asked about it and it became public.
You think the problem would've sorted itself out had he not made it public?
Poor guy! I don't think he went out speaking about it. He was marketing his film, and was asked about it. When I was not marketing my film, I wasn't talking about it. Now I am, so we are talking about it.
The fight has divided the industry into two camps. Agree?
No. There are no camps or divisions. The fight was not such a big fight. I don't even think it's a fight. But having said that, for 40-year-old men who supposedly have iconic statuses I completely disagree with it. At least for me I won't say it about Salman to be known for a tiff at two in the morning, is very embarrassing and silly.
Members of Salman's family are still friends with Gauri and you.
I have a lot of love for his father, his mother, and him. I owe a lot of my being here to them in no other terms, except that they were very nice to me. And still are. In fact, Malaika called me for her birthday party. I have an amazing relationship with his family, and maintain that not being friends, doesn't mean being enemies either.
Salman and I are two very different people. There is not much common ground we share. He is from the film industry, I am from the outside. He's got a way of living, mine's different. We have houses on the same street but once you enter the houses, they are very different. Some-times opposites attract but in our case, there not much common to really sit down and chat. And I'm not into these vehement lines like 'we will never be friends' etc; having said that, there was also talk about me having spoken ill of a woman which I haven't.
It was reported that you said something derogatory about Aishwarya.
I cannot speak ill of any woman ever in my life. I take great amount of pride in the fact that I have a huge amount of respect for women. Yeah (jokingly) I might flirt and say something sweet like 'You are looking very sexy' but I will never speak never loosely to a woman. I am surrounded by women, beautiful women from my mother to my daughter to the actresses in between, who have loved me immensely. I cannot explain it. I've had some of the most beautiful relationships with some of the most beautiful women in the world. According to me, 'the most beautiful women in the world' at least. When you sit down with a lot of women who know me, they will talk about me from Niloufer (his media manager) to whoever. You will notice a great warmth for me because I have never belittled any woman.
Did you call her or her family to clarify?
I don't think I needed to clarify anything. People who know me, should know that I'd never say anything like that.
Jaya Bachchan must've believed it to make a statement about slapping you...
No, I don't think she believed it. I don't know why she said what she said.
She said she would talk to you about it. Did she?
Your appearance at the Drona premiere was termed as an olive branch.
I will tell you why I went to the premiere. Firstly, it is an Eros film, I went for Kishore (Lulla) it was his first premiere. Secondly, Abhishek is very fond of me, and he called to invite me. Thirdly, I'd missed Priyanka's last premiere (Love Story 2050), which was very important to her. I am sure this was also very important, so I went. I don't normally go to premieres. Also, they said please bring the kids and they were very keen to see it.
It was their first premiere. I wanted them all to be dressed in black and know what a premiere is all about. They were excited; they enjoyed it. They are very fond of Abhishek. Initially, I had said I wouldn't make it as I was shooting. But then, the strike happened and I was told I was not going to shoot the next day, so I said 'why not'. A lot of friends were going. Later, we'd call them home and sit down, chat and make an evening of it.
Goldie wants to dedicate Drona's sequel to Aryan...
I asked him how much would he'd give Drona out of 10. He said six-and-a-half or seven. Which is quite nice. I have not had the chance to talk to Goldie and Abhishek but I would tell them that they only went wrong in the narrative, which became a little lost in the visual effects; it is a mistake that all of us can do easily. It's very important for films like Krissh, Drona, LS 2050 to come out. It's a new genre and will take time to find its place but I want to get into that genre and make films like that and it's important for us to learn from this.
You are making your own superhero film shortly
Yes, I'm making Ravan with Anubhav Sinha. And if Mani is using the title, I will change it. I like the title.
Actually, the film is more about the villain. I am not playing the villain. I am going to keep the story very simple but hopefully, create an interesting villain. I have three to four people in mind. A superhero should be incidental.
A superhero is no-one without a super-villain. I'm working on the super villain and then I'll play the superhero. I want to play a superhero before I grow too old, and the wrinkles start showing and my six pack goes. I will consciously try not to get carried away by the vfx but by the content.
The villain? It will be like an established hero?
I am not taking a hero to play a villain. It's not like Dhoom. I might take a new person.
You and Akshay spent an hour talking at a recent party. Co-production on the anvil?
Akki and I go back a long way. We are both very simple, basic people. We know each other before a lot of people who know us now.We have done a lot of shows together. We did Dil Toh Paagal Hai together for just two days but know each other very well. He has a great sense of humour like me. We have fun things to talk about. Akshay doesn't attend too many parties nor do we don't attend many common parties. So when I met him, I just wanted to sit down and chat with him about a few things... work, also. Not a co-production; but yes, we talked about some shows. It's been a long time since we worked together, so we were discussing possibilities. We had great fun doing the Awesome Foursome shows, and they were the biggest hits before Temptation. And it worked because of the energy we all bring to the table. Not a co-production, but we'll try and do some work together. It will be nice if we can.
While on his world tour, Mr Bachchan blogged about some big star trying to sabotage his shows...
I do shows once in three years. It has been four years since I did Temptation. We were planning shows and I got busy with IPL. Then I heard about Mr Bachchan doing the shows, and I am very clear about this if one big show is going international, the other one should not even come along at the same time. It divides. Shows are a very difficult business. I told the Moranis very clearly that we are not doing a show at the same time as The Unforget-tables. Promoters still come, sir aap bolo toh hum yeh karenge, woh wala nahin karenge, humko choice do. I said 'there's no choice.' I assume that when I am doing a big show, a lot of people will also think like that. It is like releasing a film on the same day.
So you are not that big star sabotaging their show?
Let me tell you something my dad used to tell me. There was a robin and an eagle living in a jungle. Lightning struck and the robin's nest was burned down. The eagle was a good friend of the robin and wanted to break the bad news to him but didn't how to do so. The robin told him: Giri thi kal jahaan bijli woh mera aashiyaan kyun? Which means don't be uncomfortable, if something bad has happened, it doesn't mean it's about me.
When somebody writes a blog or an article, I think like the robin. That's its not about me. If someone mentions a big star, I'm not the only big star. If it was written 'the biggest star', maybe. That is me. But a big star could be anyone. I wouldn't in my wildest dreams assume that Mr Bachchan would say something like that. I wouldn't react to it because it's not about me.
So where do you think it was coming from?
A lot of people say a lot of things. I have somehow have not formed an equation with Wizcraft (the organisers of The Unforgettables), I have it with the Moranis. I find a three-day IIFA festival too long to attend. When they've said fly-in, fly-out, I have done it. Once my family forced me, because they wanted to party in Amsterdam. I went for three days and I was like (growls) 'Arrrgh, don't waste my time'. You're giving me an award, I'll come and take it. You want me to perform, I will come and perform but please... I fly in and fly out.
Teen din mujh ko aaiyashi karne ka shauk nahin hai, aur mujhe yeh samajh mein bhi nahin aata.
So it's your way or...
In life, I am very clear. Na main kisi ko undercut karta hoon, na kar sakta hoon. Na karne ki koshish karta hoon.
I've always maintained this. My work is the best work. To take it ahead, I will work on it positively. To take it ahead, I won't work negatively for someone else. I have said very clearly, I am emotionally unavailable for a lot of people, so a lot of people assume a lot of things and call me names like matlabi and manipulative. I have two beautiful innocent children and would teach them anything wrong. Tomorrow when they are 21 and they say, 'Papa, you're a very successful man', I want to be able to tell them 'Yes, and I did it with full honesty, integrity, goodness and a competitive spirit in the healthiest way.' I am quite a self-made man. I have never asked anyone for anything. I have never given anything to anyone. I truly adhere to that, and I am happy that way. People assume I will give a little more. I have Barry John talk about me to people. I am sorry I am emotionally unavailable to a lot of things and people.
Star prices shot up after big corporates stepped in. But that's changing now. Has that affected you?
I don't sign up with corporates. I sign films with directors. My price is very low. I have kept it like that. I don't want to say what I charge as it will destroy everyone. I have never asked for more, if someone gives me more, God bless them. If they give me less, okay. I will only do a film that I want to do. I am priceless. I cannot be bought with money. It's for the viability of a film, it's not economics. I have still not understood this even though I make films. As a producer, people ask me for a lot of money, and I give it to them. And rightly so, they want it. And we want them, so we pay them what they want. I hate talking money, but let me just say that whatever is being claimed, I have got Â¼th so far. And when I say Â¼th, I mean compared to 20, and not 60, 70. (laughs). I am a limited edition star, you can't afford me but you can deserve me.
Are you planning to take Red Chillies public?
No. I am anti-public. I want to own my business.
How has the ban on smoking in public places affected you? Have you cut down on smoking?
No, I have just stopped going to public places. That's one way to beat it (laughs). So everyone comes to my house. And I have shot three ads in my house recently. They come and shoot here and we smoke here.
You're kidding, right?
Yes. I was busy... time constraints and all. They didn't get a floor, we shot in the house. We have enough place. I think the ban's a great thing. But to be really honest, I can smoke anywhere, I am Shah Rukh Khan.